Ondo Gov. Poll: Like Omoboriowo, Like Ajayi By Michael West


By Michael West
July 22, 2020

If the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, truly desires to unseat the incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, then, the estranged Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi who recently defected to the party is not the ace card the PDP should use for the contest.

I have no personal interest in a particular party or candidate but to avoid the possibility of re-enacting the 1983 political crisis that engulfed Ondo State, Ajayi should not become the standard-bearer for the major opposition party in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.

Ondo State has been described as the strongest Obafemi Awolowo’s political support base in the old western region. Apart from being the launching base of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Ondo Province (now Ondo and Ekiti states) immensely benefited from Awolowo’s educational and agricultural policies than the rest.

Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, the first executive governor of the Ondo State was not just a loyalist but a highly trusted associate of the late sage. He was also the brain behind Awolowo’s popular free education policy and its implementation.


In the second republic, Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, was the ruling party of the LOOBO states which comprised the entire southwest and the old Bendel state (now Edo and Delta States). As the major opposition party to the ruling National Party of Nigeria, NPN, the party became the nest for disgruntled politicians from the other parties especially the desperately ambitious ones who failed to realise their aspirations in their original parties.

When it was time for the second term election in 1983, just like Ajayi, Chief Akin Omoboriowo, Deputy to Governor Ajasin, decided to spar with his principal to unseat him. Despising persuasions and interventions, Omoboriowo forged ahead to challenge Ajasin by defecting to the NPN after losing the primary election to Ajasin in the UPN.

Banking on the federal might, Omoboriowo and his new political haven, NPN, by using the then Federal Electoral Commission, FEDECO, manipulated the election results in favour of Omoboriowo. The announcement on the Radio Nigeria, Akure, declaring Omoboriowo as winner sparked the violent protests that led to arson, wanton damages and killings. Notable Awoists who defected to the NPN with Omoboriowo were killed and burnt.

Ondo people are volatile when it comes to cheating or shortchanging them. They are not sentimental when it comes to defending their rights. Thanks to the judiciary which restored the people’s mandate to Ajasin as pronounced by the Appeal Court in Benin weeks later.

Ajayi is a good catch for the PDP as his defection could be a plus but not to the extent of flying the party’s flag. He is not capable of delivering the much coveted victory the PDP hopes for. Contrary to his boastful promises to the leadership of the PDP, only a handful members of the APC followed him to the PDP while some other supporters promised to work against the APC in-house not just in favour of his aspiration but to ensure that Akeredolu does not return to office. Nine members of the state assembly have been identified to be sympathetic towards his ambition within the APC. Given this consideration, Ajayi may actually pose a threat to Akeredolu but certainly not to unseat him.

The PDP will be gambling to lose big time if Ajayi becomes its flagbearer. There are more popular aspirants who are equally grassroots politicians than Ajayi in the party.

My concern in today’s PDP primary is to safe the state from a possible repeat of the bloodletting experience of Ajasin/Omoboriowo contest in 1983. I wish Ajayi well but his new party should consider the peace and wellbeing of Ondo State more than personal interests and ambitions of individuals.

_* West wrote via [email protected] 08035304268_

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